Expanding SVCF's ongoing regional planning work to connect communities from San Francisco to Santa Clara County

Vu-Bang Nguyen

With the recent announcement by SVCF of the new Silicon Valley Regional Fund to support efforts that will benefit communities and residents from San Francisco to Santa Clara County, some have wondered why SVCF is choosing to engage with San Francisco-based initiatives. As our CEO, Emmett Carson, and the panelists at our Regional Meeting so clearly explained, for solutions to be effective, issues such as transportation, public transit and housing must be addressed regionally, not on a city-by-city or even county-by-county basis. 

As part of SVCF's work on building strong communities, which is my area of focus, we support nonprofit organizations that work to improve land use and transportation, and that promote civic engagement – that is, getting regular people involved in city planning and regulatory decision-making processes. This way, they have a voice in whether affordable housing gets built or new bus rapid transit lines get approved.

Many of these organizations are based in San Francisco, but to date SVCF has only funded their efforts when their projects improve housing and transportation conditions in Silicon Valley or the Bay Area as a region. That will change with the Regional Fund, in acknowledgement that these issues affect residents from San Francisco, all the way south to Gilroy. 

Here are a few examples of work that is underway that will benefit from the support of the Regional Fund:

Regional Planning

Great Communities Collaborative

The Great Communities Collaborative, co-chaired by SVCF and The San Francisco Foundation, came together 10 years ago to nurture a new growth model for the Bay Area, one that enables residents to turn their cities into walkable, mixed-income neighborhoods with affordable homes near transit, jobs and services. GCC set a goal to ensure that half of the Bay Area’s homes by 2030 would be affordable and located in walkable communities served by transit. This goal was built on the premise that equitable, transit-oriented development reduces the region’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and leads to healthier, more livable communities. The collaborative includes national foundations as well as local nonprofit housing and transportation organizations. 

Regional Transit Map Design Challenge

The Bay Area has more than two dozen separate public transit operators — and yet only 3 percent of all trips in this region are made using transit. How can we get more benefit from our transit investments and efforts? SVCF is partnering with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area’s regional transportation agency, and Bay Area transportation operators and nonprofit organizations to organize a regional transit map design competition. The goal is that great design-thinkers in the Bay Area will join the challenge to design a new transit map that will lead to seamless transit information and mapping across the region’s nine counties and 27 transit agencies.  

Affordable Housing Nexus Study

Affordable housing is a regional issue that will need to be solved at the regional level. SVCF is leading a collaboration among 12 jurisdictions across Santa Clara and Alameda counties to explore an affordable housing impact fee. The first step is developing a “Housing Nexus Study” that will help determine what level of fee could be assessed on new residential or commercial development to help pay for affordable housing. Secondly, cities must determine what, if any, fee should be implemented. For cities that adopt fees, the revenue would be the first new source of local affordable housing funding since the closure of California’s redevelopment agencies in 2012. 

For more information about this work, you can reach me at 650.450.5502 or vnguyen@siliconvalleycf.org

If you are interested in contributing to the Silicon Valley Regional Fund to support this work, contact your philanthropy advisor, corporate philanthropy manager, or donate@siliconvalleycf.org